2010: A Year's Review - July to September

JULY

On the first day of July, Albion rejected West Ham’s second written offer for midfield star Graham Dorrans – reportedly for £4 million.

Hawthorns hero Darren Moore said the club were better equipped than ever to try and establish themselves in the Premier League.

Dan Ashworth paid tribute to World Cup star Chris Wood as the young New Zealander impressed on the biggest stage for his country.

Flying winger Jerome Thomas was handed a one-year contract extension, plus another year in the club’s favour, after his impressive performances in helping the Baggies gain promotion. The free transfer scored seven goals in 27 appearances, including five as a substitute.

Albion gave Borja Valero permission to discuss terms with Villarreal over a permanent deal after the two clubs neared towards a deal for the Spanish midfielder.

West Ham tabled a third “unwanted” bid for Graham Dorrans which was again rejected by Chairman Jeremy Peace. Albion’s supremo “put an end to the matter” after details of the bid were leaked to the press. Roberto Di Matteo praised the midfield for not letting the speculation affect him and insisted the Scottish international was best placed to continue his development.

After Albion’s players had returned to pre-season training, the first team travelled the short distance to Kidderminster Harriers for their first ‘friendly’. Pablo Ibanez made his first start for the Baggies as the club unveiled its new black away kit for the first time. It took the newly promoted Baggies only 11 minutes to break the deadlock when Ishmael Miller cleverly lifted the ball over the Kiddy ‘keeper to open the scoring. After making 11 changes at half time, Roman Bednar extended the scoring in the 68th minute before Abdoulaye Meite scored his first goal for the club in the 73rd minute. In a crowd of 1,950, Albion fans totalled 1,130. After the game, the first team jetted off to Holland for their mini pre-season tour.

After joining permanently only weeks ago, Steven Reid decided to call time on his international career with the Republic of Ireland and concentrate on his career with the Baggies.

James Morrison hoped to regain the form which lit up the Premier League the last time the Baggies were in the top flight. The former Middlesbrough man enjoyed his first pre-season following 15 months out injured with an Achilles problem.

Twenty-two year old keeper Luke Daniels signed a one-year extension to his contract and immediately joined Bristol Rovers on a season-long deal. Another Albion goalkeeper, Shane Lewis, along with Adil Nabi, were called up by the England Under-17s for the Nordic International Tournament.

Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo revealed the club’s interest in signing Liverpool striker David N’Gog and said they were close to signing another goalkeeper to compete with Scott Carson.

Albion continued their unbeaten start to pre-season after beating Dutch opposition VVV Venlo 2-1. Striker Ishmael Miller continued his impressive form in front of goal when he put the Baggies in front in the 25th minute. Roberto Di Matteo again chose to make 11 changes at half time. But the changes disrupted the Baggies and Venlo equalised through Ruud Boymans in the 59th minute. But Gabriel Tamas mazy run put Albion ahead only a minute later. Jerome Thomas looked likely to extend Albion’s lead in the 78th minute but was pulled down by Ferry de Regt who was subsequently shown his marching orders. Roberto Di Matteo hailed the “amazing” fans that had travelled to Holland to support the team after the game.

Graham Dorrans committed his future to the club by signing a new-and-improved deal at the Baggies. The Scotland international penned a new four-year deal, plus a year in the club’s favour, to keep him at The Hawthorns until 2015.

Borja Valero effectively ended his Albion career after joining Villarreal on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent deal. The former Real Madrid midfielder became Albion’s record signing when he joined from Real Mallorca for £4.7 million in 2008. However, the midfielder struggled to adapt to the English game and made 36 appearances for the club, including six from the bench, and failed to find the net before returning back to Spain.

A young Albion XI travelled to Crewe Alexandra although they couldn’t continue the first team’s unbeaten stretch. First team pros Leon Barnett, Reuben Reid and Luke Moore all figured, although an experienced Alex side won the game through a Luke Murphy strike in the 59th minute.

Jerome Thomas and Pablo Ibanez helped officially unveil the club’s new kit for the 2010/11 season. The Baggies would wear their traditional navy blue and white striped home shirts and returned to a black stripped away shirt. But it was the club’s new sponsor’s Homeserve and their logo which caused the main talking points. The Monopoly styled house was not well received by fans and critics alike.

Youssouf Mulumbu joined Jerome Thomas and Graham Dorrans by penning a new contract with the Baggies. The fans’ favourite committed his future to the club until 2013 after penning a two year deal, plus a year in the club’s favour.

Albion travelled to Bristol Rovers hoping to record a third consecutive pre-season win. The Baggies were without strikers Roman Bednar, Ishmael Miller and Simon Cox through injury so young Canadian striker Marcus Haber started up front for the visitors. In a bizarre twist of fate, Luke Daniels was supposed to line up for Rovers in his first appearance since joining the Pirates but injured his back in the warm up and was withdrawn at the last minute.

When the game finally began, Chris Lines hit the outside of the post for Rovers early on after Jonas Olsson had committed a foul on the edge of the area. Albion came back into the game with Haber, Olsson, Morrison and Thomas all coming close to opening the scoring. After the break, Gabriel Tamas found Jerome Thomas down the left with the winger skipping past his man and the unmarked Graham Dorrans who had the easiest of headers to give Albion the lead. Buoyed by the goal, Morrison, Reid and Dorrans all came close to adding a second. Rovers pushed for an equaliser late on, but the Baggies held on to record their third straight win.

Roberto Di Matteo revealed he was experimenting with Chris Brunt during pre-season after the midfielder left his wing berth in favour of a central spot in Albion’s midfield.

Brunt’s fine form last season and during Albion’s three friendlies was rewarded with the Northern Ireland international with a new three-year contract, plus a year in the club’s favour.

Albion closed in on the signing of former Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba. The midfielder travelled with the side north and watched from the bench as Albion faced Doncaster Rovers hoping to extend their unbeaten pre-season record. Injury again savaged the Baggies’ starting line up with Ishmael Miller starting up front as the lone striker. In a game of little chances, Dean Shields’ excellent individual effort was enough to hand the Championship side the win. However, the Baggies should’ve really have maintained their unbeaten start to the season when Chris Brunt somehow headed wide when presented with an open goal.

Just as it looked as though Djemba-Djemba would sign for the club, Albion dramatically pulled out of the deal for the Odense man. The Baggies raised medical issues for pulling out of the deal and came under fire from Odense chairman and the former Manchester United man who claimed the club had tried to “cheat Odense and tried to get me cheaper”.

But Albion did strengthen their ranks with the addition of Wales international Boaz Myhill for an undisclosed fee from Hull City. On the same day, Marcus Haber joined former Albion midfielder Derek McInnes north of the boarder at St Johnstone on a season-long deal.

The Baggies made the short journey down the M6 to continue their pre-season preparations to face Coventry City. Roman Bednar, Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas all returned for Albion with Marek Cech making his first appearance for the club since his World Cup adventure with Slovakia. But it was Coventry who took the lead in the 15th minute when former Birmingham midfielder Gary McSheffrey opened the scoring. City remained in front until after the break when Ishmael Miller scored his third goal of pre-season when he headed home Gianni Zuiverloon’s excellent cross from the right. After only signing for the club the day before, Boaz Myhill made his first appearance for the Baggies as a second half substitute.

The club revealed that James Morrison had followed in the footsteps of Jerome Thomas, Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans and Chris Brunt in penning a new contract with the Baggies – although unbeknownst to everybody else, the Scottish international signed his deal back in February! The midfielder wanted to regain full fitness after being sidelined for ten-months before revealing his new deal.

AUGUST

James Morrison had double reason to celebrate when he was called into the Scotland squad for the first time since April 2009 alongside Graham Dorrans to face Jonas Olsson’s Sweden.

Chris Wood played his first competitive games since the World Cup but could not stop an Albion XI losing 2-1 at Rushden. Reuben Reid scored a fine individual goal to open the scoring but hosts scored two second half goals to earn the win.

Roberto Di Matteo confirmed that Scott Carson would retain the captain’s armband for the Premier League season despite speculation an outfield player would get the honour.

Albion youngsters Adil Nabi and Shane Lewis played key roles in helping England Under-17s reach the final of the Nordic Tournament in Finland.

The Baggies played their last, and only home, pre-season friendly against Osasuna in front of nearly 5,000 fans at The Hawthorns. Gonzalo Jara made his comeback from injury wearing an Albion shirt for the first time since February as Di Matteo picked a strong starting XI. Albion started the game brightly and James Morrison opened the scoring in style when he back-heeled Jerome Thomas’ cross into the net in the 15th minute. The Baggies were defending well and it took the visitors 34 minutes before they recorded an effort on Scott Carson’s goal.

After the break, Boaz Myhill replaced him between the sticks to make his first appearance at The Hawthorns for the Baggies. However Albion’s new stopper was unable to stop the Spanish outfit levelling the scores through an Oier penalty in the 85th minute after a shirt pull by Olsson.

Nicky Shorey passed a medical with the Baggies ahead of a proposed move from neighbours Aston Villa. The 29-year-old signed a two-year deal with the club, plus a further year in the club’s favour, for an undisclosed fee.

Adil Nabi and Shane Lewis tasted victory in Finland as the young lions helped England Under 17s to a 2-1 victory over Sweden in the final of the Nordic Tournament.

Albion were drawn away to Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup second round.

Gonzalo Jara became the latest Albion player to sign an extension to his contract as the Chilean penned a new three-year contract, with a year in the club’s favour.

Roman Bednar scored his first goal for his country as he helped the Czech Republic to a 4-1 friendly win against Latvia. James Morrison also played his first international game since April 2009 for Scotland.

Kayleden Brown moved to Tranmere Rovers on a month’s loan to help progress his development.

On the eve of his return to Stamford Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo put emotions to one side insisting he had a job to do for the Baggies on the opening day of the season. The Italian handed full debut to Pablo Ibanez as the Baggies travelled to Chelsea on the opening day of the season.

Albion were on level terms against the champions for just six minutes until Florent Malouda opened the scoring after Scott Carson had failed to hold a Didier Drogba free kick. Roman Bednar had the ball in the net for the Baggies after neat play from Graham Dorrans, but his effort was ruled out for offside. Jerome Thomas impressed down the left, but despite Albion playing neat football it was Chelsea who doubled their lead seconds before the half time whistle. Didier Drobga lined up a free kick then went between Chris Brunt and Gabriel Tamas in the defending wall giving Scott Carson no chance.

The goal brought the hosts to life after the break and Albion were given a footballing lesson in attacking. Didier Drobga got his second of the season after confusion between Chris Brunt, who played in a defensive midfield role, and Youssouf Mulumbu. Frank Lampard scored Chelsea’s fourth in the 63rd minute with a trademark finish before Drogba scored his hat trick in the 68th minute. But five-star Chelsea were not finished as Florent Malouda made sure Albion were hit for six on the opening day in stoppage time.

After the game, Roberto Di Matteo said the result was harsh on the Premier League new boys but insisted his side must learn fast how to defend against high quality players. Jerome Thomas urges the fans to keep faith with the Baggies and Chris Brunt believed Albion’s season wouldn’t be defined against sides such as Chelsea.

Winger Reuben Reid joined Black Country neighbours Walsall on loan until January 4th as another winger, Somen Tchoyi, visited The Hawthorns for a medical ahead of a proposed move.

Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie became Albion’s sixth summer signing after he signed from Lokomotiv Moscow for an undisclosed fee. On the same day, Somen Tchoyi also completed his move from Salzberg for an undisclosed fee. The Cameroon international signed a two-year contract, plus another year in the club’s favour, after a lengthy chase for his signature.  

New signing Odemwingie went straight into the Albion squad to face Sunderland at The Hawthorns in the Baggies’ first home game of the season. Jonas Olsson was also recalled in favour of Pablo Ibanez who dropped down to the bench. Odemwingie became an instant fans’ favourite as he fired Albion to their first league win of the season during an impressive full debut. After a tight game in which Odemwingie had wasted the best chance in the first half, he made up for his earlier miss when he collected James Morrison’s excellent through ball in the 81st minute to poke home his first goal for the club.

Roberto Di Matteo admitted his gamble to play the Nigerian paid off after he only received his international clearance only hours before kick off. Odemwingie himself set his intention to score at least ten goals throughout the season in Albion colours.

World Cup star Chris Wood attracted lots of interest from several clubs wishing to take the youngster on loan after his impressive displays in South Africa. Baggies boss Di Matteo preferred to keep the Kiwi at The Hawthorns to cover injuries – although revealed midfielder Sam Mantom may be allowed to leave temporarily to further his development.

Mantom was part of the Albion side which travelled to Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup second round as part of eleven changes made by Roberto Di Matteo. He made his full debut alongside Nicky Shorey and Boaz Myhill. The Baggies dominated from start to finish with Mantom impressing in the middle alongside Steven Reid. Pablo Ibanez scored his first goal for the club in the 29th minute when he headed home Mantom’s free kick from the left. After the break, Albion continued to press but had to wait until the 91st minute when Chris Wood, making his first appearance since the World Cup, slotted home from an acute angle to send Albion into the next round.

Michael Appleton claimed it was a “great night” for Albion’s Academy after Sam Mantom and Chris Wood both caught the eye for The Throstles.

Defender Leon Barnett joined Norwich City on a five month loan deal after falling down the pecking order at The Hawthorns.

It was a case of one in, one out, at The Hawthorns after Marc-Antonie Fortune returned to the club on a permanent basis after his loan spell two seasons ago. The forward signed from Celtic for an undisclosed fee – after playing 90 minutes for the Hoops the previous evening. Fortune penned a two-year deal, plus a year in the club’s favour.

Albion’s reward for beating Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup was a home tie against money bags Manchester City.

Fortune went straight into the Albion side which travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool. He was one of two changes to the team which beat Sunderland as Nicky Shorey replaced the injured Marek Cech in the back four. New boy Somen Tchoyi was also included in the squad for the first time. Albion enjoyed the best of the exchanges at Anfield as the visitors outplayed their hosts for long spells. Fortune and Morrison both came close for the Baggies before the half time whistle blew.

In the second half Albion continue their impressive show in front of a silent Kop as the Baggies pushed forward for an opener. Graham Dorrans came within inches of scoring, but as Albion pushed forward the hosts hit on the counter-attack just after the hour mark when Fernando Torres struck from the edge of the area. The Baggies were then denied two clear penalities before James Morrison was harshly sent off following a mistimed challenge on Torres.

Roberto Di Matteo was buoyed by the show at Anfield and revealed the club were in talks to sign Austrian international Paul Scharner on a free transfer.

Scott Carson was recalled to the England squad for the 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland for the first time in nearly two years.

Paul Scharner completed his move to the Baggies after passing a medical. The former Wigan Athletic man signed a two year contract at the club.

In Albion’s first Premier League reserves fixture, Chris Wood fired a double as Albion came from behind to draw 3-3 against a strong Blackburn Rovers side. Sam Mantom also scored for the second XI.

On a busy transfer deadline day, youngster Craig Dawson signed from Rochdale for an undisclosed fee – and was immediately loaned back to Dale for the rest of the season. Defender James Hurst also returned to the club on a free transfer after leaving for Portsmouth two years ago.   

SEPTEMBER

After the transfer window had closed, Albion announced their 25-man Premier League squad until January. Luke Moore and Luke Daniels were the only first-team pros to miss out on the squad and would play no part in Albion’s first-team league campaign.

Austrian international Paul Scharner said the chance to compete for a midfield berth at the Baggies swayed his decision to join the club. Another international, Scott Carson had to pull out of the England squad after a family bereavement.

New signing Somen Tchyoi said it was his honour play in the same league as his boyhood idol...Tony Adams! Roberto Di Matteo revealed he was keen to send Luke Moore and Luke Daniels out on loan after omitting the two from the club’s 25-man Premier League squad.

Paul Scharner stepped up his match fitness after being selected for a behind-closed-doors friendly for the reserves against Bolton. The Austrian played just over an hour in an Albion shirt for the first time as the Stripes comfortably won 4-0. Chris Wood scored twice, Simon Cox netted and Paul Downing completed the victory.

Joe Mattock was spared jail after he pleaded guilty to affray. Sporting and Technical Director Dan Ashworth backed the defender to get his career back on track after the incident and revealed how the club intended to send him out on loan to continue its development.

Roberto Di Matteo was forced to make two changes as Tottenham Hotspur visited The Hawthorns. Graham Dorrans missed out through a family bereavement and James Morrison served the first of his three-match suspension. Paul Scharner and Jerome Thomas came into the starting XI. It was Spurs’ debutant Rafael Van Der Vaart who caught the eye early at The Hawthorns as he and Croatian Luka Modric controlled the midfield. It was Modric who deservedly gave Spurs the lead in the 27th minute when he volleyed home from 15 yards.

But back came the Baggies to equalise in the 41st minute. Marc-Antonie Fortune waltzed past the Tottenham defence but saw his shot saved by Carlo Cuidicini. Peter Odemwingie reacted quickest to the loose ball to head across goal where Chris Brunt nodded home from close range.

Albion were given a massive let-off minutes after half time when Gareth Bale missed a one-on-one. But as the game went on, Albion became more threatening with Cuidicini making a number of fantastic saves to hold on to a point for Spurs.

Paul Scharner was praised after the final whistle by Roberto Di Matteo after his impressive debut in an Albion shirt. Chris Brunt, who scored his 50th goal for the club, later said he would’ve preferred to swap the strike for three valuable Premier League points.

Ishmael Miller, Graham Dorrans and Joe Mattock all returned to training to give Roberto Di Matteo a selection headache ahead of Albion’s first derby of the season against neighbours Birmingham City.

Luke Daniels made his comeback from a pre-season back injury as Albion sent a strong reserve side to face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. The goalkeeper started alongside Gianni Zuiverloon, Abdoulaye Meite, Somen Tchoyi, Chris Wood, Simon Cox and Giles Barnes against the Seasiders. But it was an Albion youngster who rescued a point when Saido Berahino netted in the last minute for the Baggies.

Gabriel Tamas claimed that Albion deserved more than the four points they had earned after a victory against Sunderland a draw against Spurs, but hoped to build on the club’s encouraging start against the Blues.

Albion were unchanged against Birmingham City with Graham Dorrans back on the bench following a family bereavement. It would be Dorrans who would play a pivotal role in the Baggies victory after he stepped off the bench to inspire a second half comeback. Blues started strongly and took the lead inside 15 minutes when a well worked free kick found Cameron Jerome unmarked at the back post. Dorrans came on after half time for the ineffective Marc-Antonie Fortune and made almost an immediate impact. The Scotsman cleverly threaded Jerome Thomas through on goal with the winger’s shot being diverted into his own goal by Scott Dann to level the scores.

Albion were in the ascendancy and had to wait just eight minutes to take the lead. Peter Odemwingie capitalised on Lee Bowyer’s poor first touch to round Ben Foster and fire the ball home from an acute angle. The goals continued for the Throstles when Jonas Olsson headed home Chris Brunt’s back-post corner to give Albion their second Premier League win of the season.

Roberto Di Matteo hailed the impact of Graham Dorrans during his substitute appearance against the Blues. The Italian also praised Jerome Thomas and Peter Odemwingie for their contribution to the win.

Before kick-off, fan’s favourite Brendon Batson was given a warm welcome by The Hawthorns’ crowd as his finished his 120-mile fundraising bike ride for Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice and Cancer Research UK.

Jonas Olsson claimed confidence was sky high in the Albion camp following the victory against Blues. But the Swede was one of ten changes made for the visit of money-bags Manchester City for the Carling Cup. Nicky Shorey was the only man to maintain his place as Somen Tchoyi made his first full start for the club. The changes did the trick for Albion as goals from Gianni Zuiverloon and Simon Cox saw off City.

It was the visitors who took the lead in the 19th minute when Jo cleverly turned on the 18-yard line to smash home with his left foot. City maintained the lead until ten minutes into the second half when right-back Zuiverloon smashed home an unstoppable effort past Shay Given. City, playing a mixture of youngsters and million-pound signings, were on the ropes and Simon Cox delivered the knock-out blow a minute after Albion had levelled when he controlled Roman Bednar’s headed flick to fire home.

In demand World Cup striker Chris Wood left for Barnsley on loan for three-months to continue his development. On the back of his goal against City, Simon Cox also revealed he may leave on loan in search of first-team football.

Ahead of Albion’s trip to Arsenal, Paul Scharner issued a rallying cry to the Baggies squad and insisted the Baggies should not show their hosts too much respect. Vice Captain Jonas Olsson also said that Albion had lost the fear factor of other Premier League seasons.

Albion fans from all over the globe raised a glass to Derby County on September 24th when the striker put an end to his career at The Hawthorns and joined the Rams on loan for an initial month. Roberto Di Matteo said he was happy to let Moore leave, but was keen to keep hold of Simon Cox.

The Baggies’ reward for beating Manchester City in the Carling Cup was an away trip to Leicester City at The Walkers Stadium.

Pablo Ibanez made his first start since the opening game of the season in place of Gabriel Tamas as Albion faced their biggest test to date against Arsenal at The Emirates. James Morrison was also recalled to the starting XI in favour of Marc-Antonie Fortune. The Baggies had not won on Arsenal soil for 27 years but ended that record in stunning fashion. Albion raced into a 3-0 lead – and missed a penalty – before conceding two late goals.

The first-half ended in stalemate after Chris Brunt saw his penalty saved by Manuel Almunia after Peter Odemwingie had been felled by the stopper. But the Baggies were in dreamland five minutes after the break when Peter Odemwingie slid home Jerome Thomas’ cross to open the scoring. Two minutes later Albion had doubled their lead when good work down the right by Chris Brunt fed Gonzalo Jara whose shot had too much power for Almunia in the Arsenal goal. It kept getting better for the Baggies when Jerome Thomas scored a third in the 73rd minute. Samir Nasri pulled one back in the 75th minute and then in injury time to give Arsenal hope. But Albion held on to record a famous victory at The Emirates and for their best start to a Premier League season.

Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo said Albion deserved their victory and he always believed his side could win at The Emirates. Peter Odemwingie said that Paul Scharner inspired the team before kick off with his team talk and that Albion’s Carling Cup win in midweek helped raise confidence levels in the camp. The victory moved Albion up to fifth – only a point from fourth.

Flying winger Jerome Thomas said the win at Arsenal was one of the highlights of his career. Chris Brunt revealed his relief that his missed penalty did not cost the Baggies dear. Star striker Peter Odemwingie was also pleased his goals had secured maximum points in the games he had netted in so far this season.

Joe Mattock returned from injury for the reserves as Manchester City visited The Hawthorns. But the defender lasted just 27 minutes before limping off. City scored two first-half penalties to give the visitors the advantage at the break. Youngster Sam Mantom halved the deficit two minutes after the break, but then went from hero to villain when he missed a penalty to equal the scores. City made the Baggies pay when Ben Mee headed home from a corner in the 83rd minute.